Montreal

Laval police accused of excessive force after teen girl sustains broken nose during arrest

Laval police are being accused of overreacting to a late-night dispute after their attempt to handcuff a 16-year-old girl left her with a broken nose and bruises around her eyes.

The incident in question took place outside a house party in Laval on March 24

A 16-year-old girl and her family are making a complaint against the Laval police over an allegedly violent arrest on the night of March 24. (Mathieu Wagner/Radio-Canada)

Laval police are being accused of overreacting to a late-night dispute after their attempt to handcuff a 16-year-old girl left her with a broken nose and bruises around her eyes.

CBC is not naming the alleged victim since she is a minor and is expected to be charged in connection with the arrest.

Photos of the girl and her injuries have been circulating on social media since the incident took place, March 24.

They include images of a Laval police cruiser's hood smeared with blood, as well as the girl in what appears to be a hospital, her face and sweatshirt bloodied.

On Sunday, the girl spoke out about her experience alongside her mother at a news conference organized by the Center for Research-Action on Race Relations.

'My mouth was full of blood'

The girl said that on the night of the arrest, she had fought with a friend outside a house party in Laval.

Police were called to the scene, and asked her if she was involved in a complaint they had received. She told them she wasn't.

An officer then grabbed her arm but she pulled away. Next thing, she says, she was face down on the asphalt.

She says she was handcuffed and her head placed on the hood of the police cruiser: "My mouth was full of blood. I was screaming that they had broken my nose and that I was only 16 years old."

She alleged that an officer punched her twice in the head and then fitted her with a spit guard.

"I was panicked," she said at the news conference. "I didn't know what was happening. I saw my blood dripping onto my sweatshirt and I didn't understand why."

She says she begged them to take the spit guard off because she was struggling to breathe, choking on the guard and blood.

One of the officers, she said, told her it was her own fault her nose was broken.

Different version from Laval police

Laval police have offered a different account of what happened during the March 24 incident.

They told CBC that a witness had phoned police to report seeing someone break the side mirrors of cars parked near the party.

The officer who responded to the call attempted to arrest a young woman as part of their investigation into the incident. 

"When we tried to put the handcuffs on her, she fell on the ground, and hit her face on the ground," said Evelyne Boudreau, a spokesperson for Laval police.  

After the incident gained notoriety on social media, the conduct of the arresting officers was reviewed by their supervisors, Boudreau said. It was determined that they did nothing wrong.

CRARR director Fo Niemi said the police's version of events did not alter their central concern, which was the use of excessive force in the girl's arrest. (CBC)

"At the time we arrived, she had already cut herself. She had blood on her clothes," said Boudreau, who alleged the blood come from breaking the car mirrors. 

The girl was issued two tickets on the night she was handcuffed, one for public drunkenness and another for assaulting a police officer.

The Laval police spokesperson said the girl could face further criminal charges, including obstruction of justice and mischief related to property damage.

Real issue is excessive force

CRARR's executive director, Fo Niemi, said Sunday that the police's version of events did not alter their central concern, which was the use of excessive force in the girl's arrest.

Her mother told reporters that she believes her daughter was likely targeted because she has dark skin and hair, traits handed down from her father who is of African descent.

The family will be contesting the tickets with help from a lawyer, and CRARR is helping them file a complaint with Laval police.

With files from Radio-Canada

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